Analysing Poetry 1
I ANALYSING POETRY
1 THE SPECIFICITY OF POETRY
- 'The poetic' is not defined by "the special properties of the language of poems".
- It is defined rather by "the expectations with which one approaches lyric poetry, the conventions which govern its possible modes of signification" (Culler, 162).
2 CONVENTIONS THAT GOVERN THE ANALYSIS OF POETRY
- 2.1 Constructing the speaker's situation.
- 2.1.1 Distance / Impersonality:
- [For the critic,] the poem is not part of an interpersonal communicative circuit.
- In reading a poem, we have to construct a context around it.
- 2.1.2 Deictics: first and second person pronouns, anaphoric articles and demonstratives which refer to an external context:
- "The deictics do not refer us to an external context but force us to construct a fictional situation of utterance ..." (Culler, 166).
- "The fictional situation of discourse must be constructed so as to have a thematic function."
- 2.2 "The expectation of totality or coherence".
- This convention is at work even where it is violated.
- 2.3 Convention of significance: 'every poem has a theme'
- 2.3.1 Establish the isotopies (= repetition of a semantic feature) in the text.
- 2.3.2 There may always be a metapoetic dimension.
- "The conventions of impersonality, unity and significance set the stage, as it were, for the reading of poetry and determine the general orientation of reading, but more specific and local conventions are at work in the processing of the text itself." (Culler, 178)
3 THE STRUCTURAL DESCRIPTION OF POETRY.
- 3.1 Metre and rhythm.
- 3.2 Rhyme and other sound patterns.
- 3.3 Syntax and verse / stanzas.
- 3.4 Figures of speech and images.
(source: Culler, J., “Poetics of the Lyric,” Structuralist Poetics, London, 1975, p. 161–188.
II THE MOST BASIC TYPES OF RHYME AND METRE
- 1 The most frequent rhyme schemes:
- rhymed couplets (Paarreim): aabb
- alternate rhymes (Kreuzreim): abab
- enclosing rhymes (umfassender Reim): abba
- 2 The most frequent metres:
- [x = stressed; x = unstressed]
- iamb (Jambus): x x
- trochee (Trochäus): x x
- dactyl (Daktylus): x x x
- anapaest (Anapäst): x x x
- tetrameter / pentameter: a line of four / five feet
- blank verse: rhymeless iambic pentameters
III BASICS OF THE SONNET